"It is incumbent upon us to be a world leader and to stop the threat of nuclear weapons," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat-N.D., calling Bolton "exactly the wrong person to put in this position. ... He has expressed disdain for arms control."
Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Minnesota Democrat, called Bolton "too conservative and too partisan. His views are too extreme for a position of this importance, and he does not represent the kind of bipartisan cooperation needed to advance the nation's arms control agenda."
Despite the criticism, Bolton appeared likely to win confirmation at a vote scheduled for Tuesday. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination, 10-8, with one Democrat, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, voting in favor. A straight party-line vote in the 50-50 Senate is all it would take for confirmation, given the tiebreaker vote wielded by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Committee Chairman Jesse Helms of North Carolina, a staunch supporter of Bolton, has called him a patriot and said, "John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon."
Bolton, an attorney, held two assistant attorney general positions in the Reagan administration's Justice Department and was assistant secretary of state for international organizations in the first Bush administration.
More recently, he has been a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, where in his writings he criticized the United Nations and the Clinton administration's North Korea policy. He also advocated diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
Dorgan said he didn't know Bolton personally, and even as he criticized the nominee's stances on various issues, he noted that many of those positions agreed with those of the Bush administration.
"He seems to believe, as this administration does, that arms reductions are not part of the strategy that makes much sense for this country -- that treaties, arms control talks, somehow represent a display of weakness, apparently," Dorgan said.
Much of the Democratic criticism of Bolton was really criticism of Bush's plan to build a national missile defense system.(c) 2001 Associated Press